MYD 2016

What are Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs)?

By definition, any collective action is comprised of many individual actions. Going forwards, Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs) are the bread and butter for countries to organise their efforts and goal-setting under the UNFCCC. They comprise of a country’s commitments to tackling climate change and set forth the country’s anticipated plans and policies for climate action under the UNFCCC and the Paris Agreement.1

What do they do?

Under the Paris Agreement regime, NDCs create transparency regarding party states’ efforts. Although they are not legally binding in nature, they ensure that governments actively set ambitious goals to counteract climate change.2 Up to the entry into force of the Paris Agreement, NDCs are considered to be “Intended” NDCs, as global cooperation in climate efforts is integral to how NDCs are formulated. Thus, commitments must activate collectively and simultaneously.3 Upon entry into force, the INDCs submitted become each country’s first NDC, with updated NDCs to be submitted every five years, based on the outcomes of the periodical global stock-takes.4

Key challenges prior to NDCs. Source: Clean Technica

Key challenges prior to NDCs. Image was taken from: Clean Technica

They represent the dual accountability governments have to their population, as well as to the international community as a whole. Additionally, the declarations of GHG emissions, or emissions intensity reductions in quantitative terms allow climate scientists and policy makers to integrate changes in global emissions into their models. With 158 submitted INDCs representing over almost 190 countries, models forecast a 2.7˚C increase in global-mean temperature over pre-industrial levels, as compared to a 3.7˚C increase given current emissions and policies.

Climate Action Tracker’s rating system in assessing each country's ambition. Source: Climate Action Tracker

Climate Action Tracker’s rating system of each country’s ambition. Image was taken from: Climate Action Tracker

Why should I care?

INDCs exist to allow governments to be accountable to their populations and fellow countries. Given their non-legally binding nature, the power is with electorates and trade partners to apply pressure to their governments and ensure that meeting NDC goals become prime policy objectives. Without sufficient awareness of NDCs, the UNFCCC and Paris Agreement regime run the risk of dissociating from policy actions, and eventually fail. As it stands, the regime is built on trust – but trust can be betrayed and commitments can be rescinded.

Caring is a responsibility, not an option.

What is Malaysia’s NDC?

There are 5 key components to Malaysia’s first INDC:5

      1. In a timeline up to 2030, with 2005 as the base year, Malaysia will
      2. Reduce its GHG emissions intensity of GDP by:
      3. 35% unconditionally, and
      4. 10% upon receipt of technology transfer and capacity building from developed countries

As emissions intensity is a measure of the “efficiency” of GHG emissions in producing economic value (in this case quantified as the GDP), Malaysia has not committed to an absolute reduction or target peaking of emissions. This is problematic, and although the Climate Action Tracker has not evaluated Malaysia’s INDC, it has classified all INDCs made in relation to emissions intensity as “inadequate”.7 Additionally, the “technology transfer and capacity building” are informed by Articles 9, 10 and 11 of the Paris Agreement.8

Written by: Shukri Bin Ahmad Shahizam
Edited by: Choy Moon Moon


  1. World Resources Institute. ‘What is an INDC?’. Web. 8 June 2016
  2. Articles 3 and Article 4, Paris Agreement
  3. Bostock, et al. ‘Shifting from ‘Intended’ to ‘Implemented’ – What’s required for the INDCs?’. Climate & Development Knowledge Network. Web. 8 June 2016
  4. Article 3(9), Paris Agreement
  5. Tracking INDCs’. Climate Action Tracker. Web. 8 June 2016
  6. Intended Nationally Determined Contribution of the Government of Malaysia’. The Government of Malaysia. 8 November 2015. Web. 8 June 2016
  7. n5
  8. Articles 9, 10 and 11, Paris Agreement